Kapawe’no Nêhiyawak School: Fostering Truth and Reconciliation Through Tradition and Education

September 30, 2023

Kapawe’no First Nation – At Kapawe’no Nêhiyawak School on Turtle Island (Treaty 8, the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation pulsates through a deeply enriching day devoted to the history, culture, and future of its Indigenous community. Lead by LAWF through the Buffalo Bay Academy, Mr Fred Mack, managed to have all students, teachers, staff and Nation members participate in today with reconciliation and honouring all our children that didn’t make it home, Every Child Matters!
The day started with a Nêhiyawêwin Circle with Ms Angela Courtoreille and Mrs Linda Gladue, the cornerstone of Nêhiyawak identity, and traditional grown tobacco by Leana Richardson and our school, offerings to honor our ancestors. Elder and knowledge keeper Mrs. Diane Halcrow receives the school-grown tobacco and delves into the meaning of Orange Shirt Day, connecting it somberly to the children who suffered in Canada’s Residential School System. Mr. Cory Cardinal Sr. speaks to the gathering, stressing that teaching Nêhiyawak traditions, language, and culture serves as a continuous act of reconciliation.

Transitioning from words to action, students break into groups for hands-on traditional crafting. Under the guidance of Mr. Scott Courtoreille and Mr. Cory Cardinal Jr., they engage in drum-making, each beat resounding as a heartbeat of their rich history and vibrant culture. Meanwhile, Elders and knowledge keepers Mrs Diane Halcrow and Mrs Priscilla Sutherland lead another group in crafting traditional rattles. Yet another group, mentored by Ms. Erin Thunder and Shakira, focuses on creating doll-sized mini skirts, honoring their ancestral attire. Ms. Angela Courtoreille supervises the beading session, where each bead serves as a vivid note in an evolving cultural tapestry.

The activities culminate in a communal meal that combines bannock dogs and burgers, harmonizing modern tastes with traditional flavors. The day takes an educational pivot as Elder / Knowledge Keeper Larry conducts a medicine walk around the school grounds. This is not just a leisurely stroll; it serves as an in-depth study of traditional plants vital to Nêhiyawak medicine, solidifying a tangible bond with the land.

A modern flair is added by the special attendance of members from the High Praire Red Wings hockey team, seamlessly merging contemporary Canadian hockey culture with Nêhiyawak way of life. Their presence indicates greater engagement in the path toward reconciliation.

The day winds down with students returning home, bearing pieces of Nêhiyawak living and wisdom, as well as orange shirts and freshly crafted traditional drums and rattles.

More than just snapshots, the day encapsulates hope, resilience, and a nation collectively striving for a reconciled future. At Kapawe’no Nêhiyawak School, every child genuinely matters, and each day is a step closer to reconciliation and a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

To our remarkable students, elders and knowledge keepers, teachers, staff, nation members, and Red Wings—Kinaskomitin for making this a day to remember!

Last modified: October 2, 2023

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